Smelling of Roses
The big news this week must be the sudden sprinkle of roses in the hedgerows. Almost overnight it seems, places that had survived all through the winter as a dull grayish brown. Who had surged into green in spring. Who had then ‘just sat there’ – seemingly waiting for autumn to arrive before committing themselves to any further chromatic exertion – suddenly have pink and white bits coyly peeking out everywhere.
Roses made me think of an attar of roses. I had a chat with Google, he referred me to Wikipedia. Attar was a Persian person. A poet, a philosopher and a pharmacist and his pen name, Attar, or Perfumier, was a reference to this last occupation. He lived around 1150 – 1220 in what is now northern Iran, and suffered from that irritatingly common problem – his writing talent was not recognised until after his death.
Bulgaria is, globally, the largest producer of rose flowers. The flowers are picked in that murky half world believed to exist, although I personally cannot vouch for it, just before daybreak. The flowers are put into copper kettles and boiled for a couple of days. If we are making an attar, the steam from the boiling is condensed and mixed with sandalwood oil.
Strangely, the sandalwood oil is the most expensive ingredient, and this, not the smell, is the reason perfume has such a high price tag.